Sean K. Cureton

The Bourne Legacy: Movie Review

In Movie Reviews: 2012 on August 16, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Theatrical Poster


The Bourne Legacy
Directed by Tony Gilroy
2 out of 4 stars

Tony Gilroy’s new film The Bourne Legacy is the fourth in the Bourne film franchise based on the novels by Robert Ludlum, a series that began in 2002 with The Bourne Identity starring Matt Damon as the titular character and protagonist Jason Bourne. With the release of this new film in the series, Jason Bourne has been left behind, with actor Jeremy Renner taking over for Damon as the new protagonist Aaron Cross, a single man among thousands of other people in the film’s narrative who have been initiated into the program that started with Jason Bourne in the 2002 film. While replacing Damon with Renner was certainly an interesting idea, and one that could have worked wonders for the franchise given Renner’s fantastic abilities as a leading man, The Bourne Legacy falls flat with lengthy sequences of dialogue that do little to explain what is going on with the plot and elaborate action sequences that seem orchestrated specifically to distract one’s attention from the otherwise lackluster attempt at story telling.

The Bourne Legacy interestingly enough does not begin with the hero. It begins with actors Edward Norton and Stacy Keach, providing two of the most superfluous and vacant performances of each of their respective careers, as two higher ups in the Bourne program speaking clandestinely about issues regarding Jason, Aaron, and the entire program which gives ordinary citizens advanced fighting capabilities that border on the super-natural. It’s too bad that these types of scenes are nearly incomprehensible, tediously boring, and comprise nearly the whole first half of the film. After about an hour into the film one almost feels like leaving the theatre, if it were not for the brief sequences of Renner in the wilderness meeting another initiate of the Bourne program, and subsequently getting into a one on one fighting match with an especially feral wolf, summoning up images that one might find in a Jack London novel.

As the film progresses, Aaron Cross gets into one dizzying action sequence after another, all in an attempt to procure some drugs that the Bourne program has had him on for an undisclosed amount of time prior to the beginning of the film. While the action sequences within the film are shot beautifully, with each frame seamlessly taking the viewer through each blow, shot, and hit that Aaron takes without confusing or losing the viewer, the fact that these sequences are linked to characters that the viewer doesn’t really care about only serves to highlight the poor writing job that Gilroy provided for this film’s script. Aaron Cross could have been an interesting and emotionally intriguing new protagonist for the series, and casting Jeremy Renner seemed like a no brainer. Unfortunately though, Cross comes across as bland and emotionally uninvolved with either himself, his equally and surprisingly unappealing co-star Rachel Wiesz, or, more importantly, the audience. The fact that the viewer doesn’t really care or understand where Cross is coming from as an individual mars this film’s ability to be an adequate sequel or spin-off for the first three films.

Tony Gilroy’s The Bourne Legacy is fun in a you-have-a-few-hours-to-kill-and-it’s-the-only-thing-on-TV kind of way, but once you actually sit down to watch the film you come away from the experience more confused and dazed then thrilled and satisfied. The original film in the Bourne film franchise was entertaining and set up its protagonist so that you wanted to know what happened to him and anticipated future films about his story. With The Bourne Legacy, however, you can’t get over the feeling that you’ve seen the same movie before and it was better the first time. I’d be interested to see where Gilroy wants to take the franchise next, but I can’t say I will be as interested in seeing the next film in the series as I was in seeing this one.

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